T.O.P.S. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

     I've played soccer my whole life, and that's how my service to the community began. Enclosed with the recreational soccer forms that arrive every year was a notice asking for volunteers to help children with disorders. I had never thought about doing it, but fantastic people run The Outreach Program for Soccer (T.O.P.S.).

This program (and others like it) is great because it shows that people with Down syndrome or autism are just as regular as everyone else. T.O.P.S. focuses on soccer and teaches kids the basic rules. Volunteers help not just kids who can walk, but also those in wheelchairs.

T.O.P.S. actually has a league, and after each game the host town cooks hot dogs and hamburgers. I love volunteering and have found that the volunteers don't care if someone has a disorder, they care about the person inside.

Helping out with T.O.P.S. has changed me a lot, and I have a newfound respect for those with disorders. I was not always like this. My mother actually signed me up without asking if I wanted to take part. I didn't, but she told me it was too late.

Before T.O.P.S. I was a mean person and would call kids with disorders "freaks" or imitate them in a crude way. Now my whole attitude has changed. It was a much-needed wake-up call, and I realized that these people are just like me. It really changed me when my new friend got his first goal. I almost cried to see him jumping up and down with joy, and all the other kids cheering him. I learned a lesson I will never forget, which is that just because some people have disorders, it does not mean they are weird.

T.O.P.S. is an excellent program for kids with disorders. It not only teaches soccer rules and stretching, but how to make new friends. It provides fun and shows these kids that even if they make a mistake, they won't get yelled at. T.O.P.S. also teaches people not to discriminate; T.O.P.S. allows anyone who wants to play. T.O.P.S. also teaches kids like me how to interact with those with disorders, and to judge a person by what matters.

Anyone who is looking for something great to do in his or her community should volunteer for a program like T.O.P.S. Those with disorders are so kind and loving, they will make you feel like you are with friends. Finally, for those who have been challenged their whole lives, isn't it time we show them some compassion?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 9 at 9:53 pm
i love this so much!
Lovergirl4ever said...
May 4, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Your truly right about how special someone can be. You wrote this with passion it seems and with a moral to the story. I love it. :) Great job


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